Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Pullman, WA

  • Published 2023/02/14

Pullman draws visitors mainly because of its superb location in the scenic Palouse Region in southeastern Washington.

Founded in 1888 and nestled on 11 square miles of gently rolling hills, Pullman is the largest city in Whitman County.

It is home to the prestigious Washington State University campus, established in 1890.

Pullman retained the small-town charm when its development began as a small wheat-growing village in the fertile Palouse Region.

The small rivers Missouri Flat Creek, Dry Fork, and the South Fork of the Palouse River converge in Pullman’s area.

This trio of rivers gave Pullman its first name, Three Forks.

During the late 1800s, Pullman saw three railway lines built in the city, revving up the city’s development.

Find out more about this city’s charm in this list of the best things to do in Pullman, WA.

Stroll around the Rose Bushes of Lawson Gardens

A flower at Lawson Gardens

Sovat San /

A local farmer, Gerald Lawson, donated the 13-acre land and funds to develop this formal garden complex dedicated to the memory of his first wife, Alice.

Completed in 1987, this garden on Southeast Derby Street centers around a gazebo and a large reflecting pool.

A gazebo and a pool at Lawson Gardens

David Dugan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The garden’s grassy areas and walkways feature accents of seasonal plantings of colorful annuals.

In 1990, the Pullman Rotary Club funded the planting of a circular garden with 600 assorted rose bushes.

A year later, the Lawson Gardens saw the addition of the Perennial Garden along the east side, providing colorful and unique displays year-round.

Visit the WSU Museum of Art

Named after the wealthy Portland art patron, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art sits inside the Washington State University campus.

The museum building is a Pullman landmark, featuring a design of a mirrored crimson cube, dominating the stretch of Wilson Road on the WSU campus.

This art museum has six galleries featuring permanent exhibits
and calendared artist displays.

The museum’s collections include 174 photographs and prints by pop art icon Andy Warhol, plus a vast portfolio of early 20th-century American paintings.

The museum also boasts a Collection Study Center featuring art pieces for scholarly pursuits of students, researchers, WSU faculty, and staff.

Watch Grizzlies at the WSU Bear Center

Visit the WSU Bear Center on Terre View Drive during the non-hibernating period of grizzly bears, approximately from April to October.

During this period, you can view the active grizzlies from the center’s viewing area in the parking lot.

You can see them playing or foraging in the exercise yard, lounging in their outdoor runs, or splashing in their pool.

The WSU Bear Center is the only grizzly bear research facility available to state and federal biologists in the US.

This center helps zoos that don’t have enough bears and provides resources for biologists to obtain meaningful data for their research.

Sharpen Your Mind at the Palouse Discovery Science Center

This center on Northeast Nelson Court offers interactive learning experiences in various scientific disciplines.

​One permanent exhibit here—EveryBODY Healthy—takes you to a life-like hospital display.

Kids can interact with this exhibit by dressing up and playing as healthcare providers or doctors.

Another permanent exhibit in this center is Nano, exploring nanotechnology and its use in our daily lives.

The U-Fly-2 Simulator in the center’s NASA Travelling Exhibit is a must-try for immersive learning about the solar system.

In the center’s MoneyVille, visitors learn more about currency and the actual value of money.

Proceed to the Art Studio to unleash your creativity using its supplies and materials.

Create your own art and add it to the center’s community art wall!

Check Events at Martin Stadium and Beasley Coliseum

Aerial view of Martin Stadium

Bobak Ha’Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The campus of Washington State University hosts two huge event venues: the Martin Stadium and the Beasley Coliseum.

Martin Stadium on Northeast Stadium Way is a football field with 40,000 seats.

It is the home field of the Washington State Cougars, competing in the Pac-12 Football Conference.

A football game at Martin Stadium

Ray Dehler, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Beasley Coliseum, on the other hand, is a general-purpose arena on Northeast North Fairway Road.

The coliseum is the home court for both the WSU Cougars men’s and women’s basketball squads.

It has a seating capacity of about 12,000 for basketball.

For major concerts, the coliseum can accommodate 12,500.

The coliseum features Cougar Den, which offers various food and beverage options, including beer and wine.

Marvel at Native American Artifacts in the WSU Museum of Anthropology

The Washington State University maintains a Museum of Anthropology on Library Road.

This museum recognizes the Native American tribes of Washington and their link to its land and water.

It is also the official repository of objects representing the culture of Native American tribes in the Inland Northwest.

You can find archaeological collections of federal, state, and county agencies in Eastern Washington in this museum.

The museum is on the first floor of College Hall on the WSU campus.

Pitch a Tent at the Pullman RV Park

Campers and visitors arriving in RVs have an affordable choice at the Pullman RV Park on Southeast South Street.

This camping facility sits on the east bank of the South Fork Palouse River.

You can find it between the City Playfield and the Pullman Community Garden at Koppel Farm.

The Pullman RV Park has 19 RV sites and tent camping grounds in its wooded area near the river.

You can’t reserve a spot at the tent campsites, though.

They are available only on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The tent sites’ facilities include Wi-Fi, a picnic table, and onsite toilets.

Additionally, the RV sites have the same facilities plus electrical hookup, sewer, and water.

You can stay for a maximum of 10 nights in the RV campsites.

View Mounted Animals from the 1890s at the Charles R. Conner Museum

Drop by WSU’s Charles R. Conner Museum to look at mounted vertebrates collected as early as the 1890s.

This museum gets its name from the former president of the WSU board of regents.

Charles Conner pushed for a permanent exhibit of the items from Washington State at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Those original exhibits featured items from several disciplines, including agriculture, biology, anthropology, and geology.

After some culling, the displays now feature mounted specimens of 65,000 birds and mammals, the most extensive collection of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

Feed the Ducks at Sunnyside Park

Cute little ducks on the pond of Sunnyside Park

Katherine M. Watts /

An assortment of ducks and turtles inhabit the two ponds of this 25-acre park on Southwest Cedar Street.

A waterfall feeds these ponds linked by a babbling brook, woven with the park’s grassy knolls that sprawl within the natural terrain of the Palouse Region.

The park provides path walks, a large picnic shelter, a barbecue area overlooking the ponds, and an adjoining kids’ playground.

You can also play sports at the park’s tennis and pickleball courts, a disc golf course, a minor league baseball field, and volleyball courts.

Community gardens occupy the park’s south side, available for summer rental.

In 1974, Sunnyside Park opened to the public.

This park hosts Pullman’s annual 4th of July celebrations.

Sip Fine Wine at Merry Cellars Winery

This winery and its tasting room are on Northeast Henley Court at the Port of Whitman County Business Park.

Its owner, Patrick Merry, opened this winery in 2004 after realizing that winemaking has become more than a hobby after engaging in it for many years.

Patrick takes pride in the gentle treatment involved in all the Merry Cellars’ winemaking process phases.

The winery hand-picks, gently crushes, presses, and minimally filters its grapes to create age-worthy wines.

Merry Cellars offers its signature red wine 2016 Dolce Vita, and the white wine, 2018 WSU Riesling.

Go Swimming at Reaney Park

Pullman’s only outdoor public pools are at this 1.64-acre park on Northeast Reaney Way.

First developed in 1917, these facilities comprise a lap pool and a dive pool, plus a pool house.

Reaney Park sits amid native buckeye trees planted on its grounds in 1915.

Other park facilities include an extensive playground area with play apparatuses, a horseshoe pit, and a park shelter.

The park hosts the National Lentil Festival and a concert series during the summer.

Learn Horse Riding at Serenity Ridge Farm

This farm on Eagle Lane spreads over 85 pristine acres amid the quiet and beautiful landscape of the Palouse Region.

Professionally managed and maintained, Serenity Ridge Farm provides safe and well-kept facilities.

The farm offers horse riders a choice of accomplished jumping and dressage instructors.

In addition to an indoor arena, it has a full-jump course in a large outdoor arena, a grass derby field with a trail course, and another course with galloping tracks and banks.

Moreover, Serenity Ridge Farm allows extensive miles of riding over natural terrain for riders’ conditioning and exploration.

Tee Off at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club

This golf facility on rolling hills is a links-style course on Palouse Ridge Drive, featuring 18-hole play over 7,308 yards from the longest tees.

The Washington State University owns the Palouse Ridge Golf Club, featuring a par 72 championship layout.

It’s also open to the public.

The course opened in 2008, vastly improving the university’s previous 9-hole course built during the mid-1920s.

The Palouse Ridge Golf Club is the home turf for WSU’s men’s and women’s Cougars golf teams competing in the Pac-12 league.

This course has seen Pac-12 and NCAA championships, proving its superb design and condition.

Watch a Movie at Pullman Village Centre Cinemas

Pullman Village Centre Cinemas is a great place to catch a movie if there’s one showing during your visit.

It’s a great all-rounder cinema that even has stadium seating to enhance your viewing experience.

The seats are clean and the general atmosphere of the cinema is fresh and vibrant, making this a great place for dates or for family bonding.

The snacks are great too, offering good variety that’s both flavorful and inexpensive.

Pullman Village Centre Cinemas can be found along Bishop Boulevard; pay them a visit if you’re looking for a nice movie experience.

Kick Back and Relax at Kruegel Park

Kruegel Park is a great respite if you want to enjoy the outdoor breeze of Pullman, found along Southeast Dike Street.

There are a ton of trees here that have varying species, making this a picturesque park during spring and summer.

Kruegel Park also has well-maintained greenery and a couple of paved walking trails, so spending a laid back afternoon here is a good way to end a day.

There’s a small playground as well for younger children, along with picnic grounds.

A great spot to relax and appreciate the simple lifestyle of Pullman, Kruegel Park is a great addition to any kind of itinerary.

Go For a Swim at Pullman Aquatic Center

Pullman Aquatic Center is a fantastic way to cool down or get some exercise during your stay in Washington.

It’s an indoor swimming facility that also has a gym, open to guests and membership for an affordable price.

The pools here feature a warmed wading pool and a lap pool if you want to properly practice your swimming form.

If you’re looking for a great indoor gym, Pullman Aquatic Center’s is fully equipped with all that you need—from treadmills, dumbbells, to stationary bikes.

Found along Northwest Greyhound Way, Pullman Aquatic Center also features a serene outdoor area full of prairie and trees.

Go for a Trek at Washington State University Arboretum

Washington State University Arboretum is a serene spot in Pullman that’s full of botanical life and even a bit of wildlife.

An arboretum with a rustic terrain, you’ll see various plant life here such as aquatic ones by its numerous ponds, to various trees and shrubberies in its wooded areas.

The arboretum also features sprawling hills that give a unique aesthetic to the area, making this a must for landscape photography.

If you’re planning a visit here, Washington State University Arboretum is best enjoyed during the spring and summer months.

You can visit it along Terre View Drive, a few minutes away from the main campus grounds.

Experience the Historic Magpie Forest

Magpie Forest is a historic geographical wonder in Washington, as it’s a preserved Palouse Prairie, one of the most endangered ecosystems in the U.S. that dates back to hundreds and thousands of years ago.

Given that information, exploring Magpie Forest will give you a sense of wonder, as this preserved area has seen the test of time.

It’s managed by WSU, so you won’t have to worry about paying any fees—making this a great addition to any kind of itinerary.

You’ll see an abundance of botanical life as well as sweeping views of the rolling hills in Pullman.

One of the most picturesque and exciting areas in Pullman, Magpie Forest can be accessed along Westwood Drive behind an apartment complex.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Hiking at the Kamiak Butte County Park

Wildflowers along Kamiak Butte County Park

Evan Sloyka /

Hailed as a National Natural Landmark, the Kamiak Butte County Park sits roughly 14 miles north of Pullman.

The park’s centerpiece butte, named after Chief Kamiakin of the Yakama tribe, rises to 3,641 feet.

This elevation is Whitman County’s second-highest point and affords visitors fantastic views of the Palouse Region.

The Kamiak Butte County Park spreads over nearly 300 acres, with over 5 miles of forested hiking trails.

Hiking trail at Kamiak Butte County Park

Evan Sloyka /

Most of the park’s acreage comprises timberland on Kamiak Butte’s northern slopes.

The park hosts more than 150 species of mammal, bird, and plant life, an excellent prospect for nature observation.

The park’s facilities include four day-use shelters, an amphitheater, picnic tables, a playground, and restrooms.

You can bring pets, on a leash, to the Kamiak Butte County Park.

Winter view of Kamiak Butte County Park

Rafael Batezini /

Fish and Paddle at the Wawawai County Park

A bridge over snake river at Wawawai County Park

Danita Delimont /

Located in the town of Colton, some 19 miles southwest of Pullman, this county park sits wedged on a nook of the Snake River Canyon.

This 49-acre park is about 3 miles upstream from Lower Granite Dam.

A nearby boat ramp allows access to the reservoir for non-motorized water sports and fishing.

The Wawawai Bay, off the Snake River at the base of Wawawai Creek, also offers similar water-based recreational opportunities.

Wawawai County Park features a half-mile interpretive hiking trail where you will learn about the park’s history, geology, natural features, and Snake River Canyon.

In addition, the park provides seven small shelters, each with a picnic table and barbecue grill.

Other park facilities include a bird viewing platform and restrooms.

You can also visit the park’s earth-sheltered house, which serves as the home of the resident park ranger.

Final Thoughts

Pullman is a charming college town whose attractions gravitate toward the Washington State University campus.

The campus bears several unique spots to satisfy the curious tourist.

Bundle these with the attractions that the city government has developed, and you can expect to have your hands full of things to do in Pullman.

© All rights reserved.